Friday, July 14, 2006

The Wal-Mart Crotch Rocket Getaway

Part IV

(by David Silverman)

The sound of every police car in Shawnee County available to respond at the height of Crazy Days was both louder than the sound in your ears from an iPod turned all the way up playing Bad Moon Rising and softer than the whine of a colicky baby in the seat behind you on a red-eye from LA to New York.
As the sun shown down through a vacation-brochure blue sky littered with puffy white clouds as soft and as menacing as cotton balls—two-bags-for-a-dollar-made-in-China-being-purchased-by-a-laid-off-autoworker cotton balls—the lone deputy and the captain, who had been in the back of the squad car sucking down an Italian-style-combo sandwich when the alarm from the Wal Mart had come in, put on the best show they could.
The deputy took up a shaky position behind the open door of the cruiser, and cranked down the window. Not even power windows, the deputy thought, and I left dental school for this. “Come out with your hands up,” he yelled into the broken megaphone—using it more as a shield than a loudspeaker.

“What’s that?” Aimee Carson said, her voice high pitched and throaty, like a speaker at a fast food drive-thru, or like a four-foot-two forty-year-old prostitute for whom life had been always hard. Puberty had brought pimples but no hair, hips, or tits and she made her living pretending to be the pre-teen she never ceased to appear to be—except with sex. Kind of like Aimee Sedaris in that TV show Stranger’s With Candy, but without the copyright violations implicit in that comparison.
“Nuh un.” Wyler said, while pushing his hand under Aimee’s ‘80s Madonna-style beaded necklaces and ripped halter top and kissing her neck as hard as he could. His Fry-Guy costume hung half off, half on his torpid body exposing his flabby arms and the tattoo around his left nipple that read, simply, “Peas.”
It was surprising what a person, and perhaps especially Wyler, could accomplish, sexual speaking, with a Fry Guy costume. But it wasn’t surprising that Aimee and Wyler had met in the Wal-Mart parking lot--each with a different goal. One, to meet Matt Klesko and tell him you are not attending St. Rosemary’s Junior High on the hill, but are in fact a drug-addicted whore who has been tricking him into sex for money and Madonna outfits and now realizes that even she can’t continue to use him like that. That he should keep his job at Wal Mart, get as far away from an awful, awful woman like her, and find himself a true love who can love him back. And the other to complete the plan dreamed up by his twin brother, and Wal Mart management expert Tyler. Tyler, fourteen seconds older than Wyler. Tyler, the pushing force who had made their mother scream so loud in pregnancy that her voice was distorted like whippoorwill from that moment forward. Tyler always had a plan and Wyler always had to do it.
But instead, Aimee, who had a weakness for big, strong guys in a costume related to any internationally recognized brand, and Wyler, a man with Down’s syndrome and a weakness for women who sounded like his mother, ended up in the dumpster behind the loading dock groping each other like a fat man attacking a stack of quarter-pounders after six months on a reality TV show where they did nothing but stop you from eating quarter-pounders cause that was the only idea that passed the test groups.

“Give me that damn thing,” the captain said, switching off the siren that the deputy had left on. Above him, the cotton ball clouds had turned a deep shade of grey. They soaked of up the sun like makeup off the cast of a high school version of cats. “Where did you learn to say that? Saturday cartoons?” He walked around the front of the squad car, his hands comfortably at his side. “We have you surrounded,” he shouted. “Best you boys just come out peacefully.”

“What do you think?” Max said, sort of to Carl, who couldn’t decide whether to re-cock the shotgun or to lie down and cry, sort of to Bruce, who looked remarkably untouched by everything, sort of Ralph and Frank, one heading to unconsciousness in his purple papier-mâché costume, the other, bewildered, his bright red 250 CC Shark shattered and intermingled with his fractured limbs and mangled bits of door frame that intermittently bing-bonged the familiar, but now sarcastic welcome tones of friendly automatic doors the world around.
But Max was unfazed by all this. He had regained his composure. It was like when he’d gone to jail the first time. When the lights went out and he had to establish who was in charge. Gone were the “Fucks” and the “Jesus Christs!” and the “Stop, Carl, don’t you recognize me? It’s Me, Max, your brother’s son. The little boy who you gave your Number 16 shirt to in 1967 when the Kansas City Monarchs disbanded. I’ll give you some of the money and write into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY to a friend of mine who works there and get you nominated.” All those ludicrously complicated adrenaline-filled pleas and revelations were over.
“What do you think?” Max said, again.
Carl looked at Max like a man who had just killed another man and hadn’t had the credits roll or cut to commercial—a man with his shoes touching less blood than Hollywood would lead you to believe a man contains, but still plenty of real, sticky, clotting hemoglobin.
“Looks like there’s only two of ‘em,” Ralph said, edging his face up to the window—using Grimace’s trademark milkshake as a makeshift crutch.
“What do you think?” Max repeated, wiping a bit of makeup from his face. “That guy wasn’t one of us,” he said feeling the greasepaint on his fingers. “Kinda hard to say blowing Minnie Mouse’s head off was self-defense.”
Carl edged his white-and-blue Keds back from the blood as Max swung his Hamburgler’s bag with the comically large dollar sign around to his chest. “Murder, Carl, ‘s a lot worse than trying to steal a few bucks with unloaded pistols.”

Someone was banging on the dumpster. Ka-thong. Ka-thong. Aimee struggled to get her Super Girl Underoos back on.
“Unh,” Wyler grunted, more annoyed at having to reduce himself from the master fucker, literally, to the second out of the womb as he pushed a soft hand against the green metal lid.
“Get out,” Tyler shouted, “get fuckin’ out.”
Tyler’s face behind his thick black-framed glasses was all twisted in the full fury of a plan going exactly—exactly—right, until Aimee came out of the dumpster behind Wyler. At the sight of her skinny ass Tyler’s face opened like a three-in-the-morning, filled-to-the-mathematical-edge-of-its-meniscus-by-an-automatic-machine-manned-by-an-angry-man-who-still-lived-at-home-with-his-mother, value-meal-sized coke-a-cola dropped on a dirty floor.
“What the fuck?” Tyler, said meaning, I tell you to do something and you fuck it up with some broad who must be half your age. Not that that matters, because you are so totally useless that if it were possible to call a number and have you sterilized, I would put that number on redial and go to the bathroom with the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle, which would be especially difficult and time consuming for me, your brother who, like you has Down’s syndrome, thereby causing them to come and cut your nuts off over and over—because even for a man with Down’s syndrome, Taylor was a shit-head.
“Ready,” Wyler said, meaning, I am ready to complete the plan, brother of mine. As we had discussed, I help you carry bags of cash.
“No.” Tyler said, meaning, All my planning to get those idiots to rob the Wal Mart. And what a wonderful plan it was. They didn’t know that all they have is a tenth of the month’s receipts and they’ll take all the blame. While I’ve got the real money stashed somewhere else. Somewhere secret. After all, who would suspect sweet little old me?
“He looks like you,” Aimee said.
“No.” Tyler said, meaning, No. Or, on maybe, No, I don’t look my brother. I’m much more beautiful.

“We’ve got all day if you do,” the captain shouted, tilting his hat back a notch and then crossing his arms. “And you can stop hiding back there,” he said to the deputy still crouched behind the star painted on the open squad car door. “They’re not going anywhere. These Wal Mart’s are built on the cheap, no windows, one door in the front, and the loading dock locked to keep employees from wandering out on smoke breaks. Or don’t you read the papers.”
The deputy peaked over the top of the door.
“And another thing, Pearson,” the captain said, “They’re a lot less likely to think we’re alone if you would stop trying to get that door to have sex with you.”
I don’t read the papers, jerk off, the deputy thought as a light rain began to fall, I use the Internet.

“Back door,” Carl said.
Max looked up and out across the store, his eyes darting with hope.
“Locked,” Bruce said. “Already tried,” and he waved, for effect, the bolt cutters he had stolen from Seasonal Hardware.
“Shit,” Max said, returning to swearing instead of thinking.
“Opens,” Carl said slowly, still focused on Minnie Mouse’s decapitated polka dot dress, “if there’s a—” And then simultaneously with Max, “fire!”
Frank moaned.
Ralph put his arm in his mouth liked he used to when his father took out the bottle of Old Smuggler whiskey.
And Bruce pointed at the propane tanks next to the barbeque grills with his cutters.
Who’s on the top bunk now? Max thought. Hamburgler is.

The deputy stood up as six cruisers from the State Highway patrol in Lawrence pulled into the parking lot—their mirrored sunglass drivers the epitome of Clint Eastwood cool—the real Clint, not the pussy I’m-an-old-man-who’s-going-to-die-eventually Million-Dollar-Baby Clint, but like the Gauntlet Clint, especially the part at the end, when they’re all whacking on him with their fists or metal chains or Billy clubs, you know, the whaddaya callit, the gauntlet, yeah, that was wicked.
The clouds had merged into a pizza tin grey slab, blocking out the sun. And just as the troopers had begun plugging in their search lights, a Bang! came from within the store.
“I’ll put in a good word to the judge for the first one of you out of there,” the captain shouted as he moved his hand to his holstered revolver, and the skies opened up. There was a moment of quiet, like the whole world was waiting for the old lady in the front of the line to hand the cashier a check for two dollars and three cents, when all of a sudden the windows of the Wal Mart blasted out, cause that’s what always happens.

“I don’t know, who the fuck are you,” Aimee said as the loading dock door flew open, billowing out four cursing men in McDonald-land costumes, Hamburgler, Mayor McCheese, and the Grimace carrying three sacks with dollar signs and a slumped Ronald, like Jesus taken off the cross. Behind them was a twitching Wal Mart employee with dark stains on his shirt, and behind him, a wall of black smoke.
“No!” Tyler yelled, hysterically waving his fists in the air as lightning flashed overhead. “No smoke break!”

“There’s a culvert behind the store,” the captain said to the still sunglassed trooper. “They’d break their necks if they to run that way.” He fiddled with the brim of his hat. “Seriously, these boys just got in over their head. They’ll be running out here ready to give up any second now. Let’s just get the fire department folks here. No need for you troopers to escalate this.”
Without a word, the trooper made a series of hand signals to his lieutenant who was holding the leashes of eight German shepherds, all drooling thick saliva. The lieutenant released the dogs and barked a command indistinct in the crack of thunder.

In the flood control culvert behind the store, Frank, on the ground, regained consciousness for a moment. He watched Max struggle to pull himself up the rain slicked concrete. Everyone was sliding, the sounds of dogs could be heard. It’s over. Frank thought. Even if we get away, that jail striped Hamburgler outfit isn’t going to help.
Tyler was slap punching Carl, “No,” he said over and over.
Carl pushed him hard in the chest. “I’ve already used this once,” he said lifting the shotgun.
Tyler stumbled back and fell in the mud.
“Help me up,” Carl said.
“Help you?” Max asked, incredulous.
“I’m the only one strong enough to lift one of you fat bastards over the wall.”
This required trust. Max didn’t like trust.
“You remember that baseball shirt? I told your father, my brother, I’d take care of you.”
“Bullshit,” Max said.
“Maybe,” Carl said, pointing over his shoulder. “But it’s that or let the dogs get you.”
A dog had descended on Tyler, biting his glasses and parts of his nose to bits.
Max cupped his hands and Carl put his foot in them. He heaved his bulk upward and grabbed onto the edge of the culvert. At the top he turned around.
“You gave your word,” Max yelled.
“Throw up the money,” Carl said.
The dogs had moved onto Frank and were circling Ralph.
“The money!”
Reluctantly Max tossed the bags.
“You promised,” Max yelled.
“And you tried to rob my store,” Carl said and ran.
Shit. Max thought.

Aimee stood behind the dumpster hugging Wyler. As dumb as he was, he couldn’t hate her for not being normal. He felt like hope—like the time that doctor had tried to stretch her out. “Of course momma loves you short, but she’d love you a whole lot more if you were normal sized.”
Wyler had gotten rid of the fry guy costume and to the police they had looked like just a scared, if extremely unsightly, couple who had gotten caught up in the whole thing.
“Let’s go,” Aimee said.
Wyler reached into his pocket and read the slip of paper he found there.
Aimee read over his shoulder. “Take out the trash? No, come on.”
He pulled out of her grip and grabbed a bag of garbage from the dumpster.
“Come on,” she said.
With the sounds of fire engines, dogs, and thunder, Wyler and Aimee walked away. The rain had slowed and at an empty diner down the road they sat together on one side of a booth sharing a cheeseburger deluxe, the bag of trash between them.
Aimee took a quarter from her fanny pack and reached over Wyler to put it in the Rocola Jukebook.
“Shit,” she said, turning the selector knob and frowning, “All they have is new Madonna.”
She punched in R5 and sat back down. “So what was so important about the damn trash? Your mommy put that note in your pocket,” she asked as, Hey Mr. DJ, Put a record on, I wanna dance with my baby warbled from the two inch speakers.
Wyler shrugged, opened the bag cautiously and peered inside with a squinted eye. He smiled at Aimee.
“What? You like trash?” She leaned in, holding his shoulder for support. Within the red tie sash of the bag she could make out bundles of cash.
“I like peas,” Wyler said. “You like peas?”


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